Monetizing your blog: the dreaded question

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening friends! How are you? How’s this second week of 2017 going so far? I hope it’s great. It’s snowy as I am writing this, and I am a teensy bit nervous to tackle this once again taboo or something subject, in my Blogging Ways feature but hey…let’s do this.

Before heading into this, a heads-up: I am no expert on this subject, nor do I know everything about this. Feel free to correct me and / or disagree, as long as it’s respectful.

blogging ways

I love blogging. I started a bit more than two years ago now, and I never stopped. There were hiatuses, obviously, there also were moments of doubt, of annoyance, of craziness and of thinking way too much about everything. I love blogging but it’s time consuming. It was taking up my days and weekends, when I was still studying, and it’s taking up my nights and weekends since I’ve been working. But I don’t regret it one single second.

That being said, it’s hard not to think of a way to make this more than just a hobby where I type crazy things behind my keyboard, spend hours formatting blog posts and brainstorming to make this place the most mine that it can possibly be. It’s hard not to compare myself to everyone else, and it’s even harder, at times, to think about all of these bloggers who “made it” on a whole other level. Meaning, they get to do this all day, all week long, and actually get paid to write things they love on a little corner of the internet.

love-my-job

Being a paid, professional blogger has to be a taboo subject at times, and it’s even harder for us book bloggers to think about this, because the equation blogging + books = money doesn’t quite exist in the sense that you can actually live from it, thrive and just do that all day long. Or maybe you can. As I said before, I am no expert on the subject. Getting a little extra (read: a couple of dimes to buy more books) from all of this time spent blogging has crossed my mind more than a couple times, and it still does. And it’s not a dead-end, there are possibilities, and multiple bloggers already told so in a couple of fantastic blog posts I’m not here to copycat.Β  Being an affiliate to Amazon or BookDepository. Making blogging designs. Offering blogging classes. Being a beta reader. Another really taboo and maybe a bit borderline, offering bookish reviews. All of these, and probably more possibilities I am forgetting here, would allow me to earn a bit from all this time I’m spending here.

Also, who can honestly say that just blogging all day long wouldn’t be a dream? I know I can’t.

alice-dream

But I also know that it’s complicated. I also know that it might be a dead-end, and that, just like if I finally finish my book and manage to publish it, I’d have to work on the side because there is no chance I’d be a bestselling author. Chances of being a bestselling bloggers are close to none in my mind as well. And I also know that, despite all of these considerations coming and going in my mind: self-hosting, having a more professional look, offering something to earn more, and just living this little dream of mine…. Well, I know that I am already getting something from blogging.

It might not be something that pays the bills, or the ginormous amount of books I’m buying every month, but it’s something more. And in a world surrounded and ruled by money, it feels good to say that on here, even if I’m not going to deny it’d be a gigantic plus, I don’t NEED the money. (Obviously we all need money. But I hope you know what I mean here) I just need this. To be able to ramble so long about this, about anything. To be able to bring a smile upon someone’s face and discover books, people, blogs, and more about who I am and what I love thanks to blogging.

This doesn’t mean monetizing won’t ever cross my mind again. This doesn’t mean that I’ll never take the plunge and do it. But it does mean that, no matter what, money or not, this is not what blogging is about for me, and I never want to forget it.

I’m obviously here to discuss your thoughts about this subject, because after rambling so much, I’d love to know how you feel about this…

Did you ever think about monetizing your blog? (Or do you already?) If so, how?Β  πŸ’¬

Are you, too, having an inside struggle about making your blog look “professional” but also “cozy”, friendly and open to everyone?

What does blogging bring you already, that you love? Let’s chat in comments! πŸ’¬

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

99 thoughts on “Monetizing your blog: the dreaded question

  1. Because it’s the New Year, I’ve had the annual “talk” from my parents about why I dont make a living from reading books. It’s hard to explain that reader-reviewers usually get paid in books rather than money; to do it professionally (i.e. quit, get money etc) it’s likely I would have to read books that publishers want read and to their timescales, rather than me getting to chose what books I read and when; etc etc. I dont charge authors for reading their books or writing reviews, but then I dont have advertising either (and wordpress.com doesnt allow amazon affiliate links – booo!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I understand, and how I’d love to be able to do that, and just do that, read all the books I love whenever I want ahaha πŸ™‚ I guess that’s a great dream we are already living, just without the money, but that’s okay πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your thoughts on this!

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  2. What’s most important is what you said about not “needing” the money. Yeah, if we were all able to double our income from just sitting in front of our blogging page in our pajamas, yeah, that would be great. But you’re right, money isn’t the reason we started blogging. So, as long as we don’t forget that, then it seems we should be pretty happy.

    In my case, I’m sort of hoping to get money from blogging – but more because I want people who find out about my writing through my blog to buy my books. It’s not based directly on the content on my posts. And a reason I started blogging did involve building a community that would be supportive (monetarily and emotionally) of my fiction writing. But it’s very true, having the emotional support is crazy important and fantastic. And I don’t have to be a bestselling author to know I’m successful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so, so much Daley, I’m glad to hear you agree and understand my point here. And blogging is such a good platform, both to be able to share more of your writing and find supportive readers, but also for emotional support as well. I’m not in the same case as you because I am more dreaming of my book than having time to finish writing it at the moment, but it feels good to be able to turn to a welcoming community whenever we have doubts or want to rant about books and everything πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. πŸ™‚ But also thank you for not being afraid to have discussions like this. After all, since the community we’re a part of seems to share most of these thoughts, it wouldn’t seem what you want to discuss is so bad. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much this 😊 I loved every second of it and the whole idea behind it. My friends always assume that I am doing this for money or to start it as a business but on the contrary I just love talking about books and the reading experience. I come from an environment where I know 2 people who are ‘avid’ readers and when I do read a book that I am excited about I have no one in real life to discuss it with so when I did start my blog I was so excited when people actually started interacting let alone read what I have to say πŸ˜… so money doesn’t interest me that much. Again thanks for this post πŸ‘Œ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so, so much! I’m glad you could relate to this post, and I agree with you so, so much. I don’t have loads of people reading the same books as I do, especially in English (I’m French). So I was thrilled to find this enthusiastic community, and I’m glad to share books with them, it’s what I love the most πŸ™‚

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  4. *gasp* She went there! Oh-ho, she went there! But seriously, there’s no shame in wanting to get paid for something you love, especially if you’re good at it.

    Jeff Goins @ goinswriter.com has some great stuff about monetizing blogs and writing in general. From what I’ve seen, people who make a living from their blogs do usually offer some sort of product as well, since paid advertising is now a tricky industry (something we studied in marketing class). There’s also the possibility that you can diversify, be an Amazon affiliate, a blogging instructor, have paid advertising slots, be a beta reader, etc. It’s likely that no one of those things will be lifestyle sustaining, but they might be able to add up to that.

    Just keep trying! I’m a big believer in people being able to do anything they’re willing to work at. You know it won’t be easy, but you can do this if it’s really in your heart. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Elisabeth! ❀ To be honest, it'd be a dream to do that, but I know how much it takes and how little the income might be. It's scary a bit haha, also I'm scared to lose everything by self-hosting. Thank you so much for all of your support and your positive thoughts, I'll take a look at Jeff's website for sure to see πŸ™‚

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      1. About the self-hosting, I changed hosting for my free WordPress site last summer and was able to transfer all my content and followers, too. That much I can say you don’t need to worry about if you decide to go there. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this post! I’ve been thinking about monetizing my blog for a while now but I’m not sure if …
    a) my blog is good enough for that
    b) how to go about doing it
    I’ve been told self-hosting on wordpress can be quite good, but I’m still not sure if I should do it or not. I mean, what if I transfer to self-hosting and make absolutely no money out of it? Hahaha! How embarrassing would that be?!
    I might just stick to blogging as a hobby for now πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It would be nice to make money to blog but at the same time, I think it would stress me out! Right now, blogging is such a stress reliever for me (I’m currently blog hopping as a study session break :P) and I would hate to erase that mentality.

    I’ve thought about affiliate buying links before but when I think about my own book buying I never use a blog to do it. Even though I know there is nothing to lose (in most cases the programs are free), it just freaks me out a little!

    But since I started accepting review copies and joining blog tours, I’ve discovered a lot of great new authors and that has been so rewarding. Connecting with those authors who are just so excited that people are reading and enjoying their novels and my ability to spread the word about their works this last year has been fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I agree with you so much. I’m scared of losing this fun I have while I blog, and for it to become too stressful. I wouldn’t enjoy that at all.
      I agree with you, it is SO great just to be able to discover new books, new authors and sometimes when we are lucky enough, to read ARCs. I think it’s ssuch a wonderful reward for blogging πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never actually seen anyone talk about this subject before, but it was certainly interesting to read about. I know there are bloggers who make money from their blogs, not sure if any of them are book bloggers but there must be some out there, but it almost seems like they’re doing something completely different to what I’m doing with my blog you know?
    Maybe one day my opinion will change; for now I love blogging, and yes I’d love to spend all day every day blogging, but at the same time there are times when I get sick of my job and hate it and I’d never want that to happen with my blog, which it may if I make it my job you know?
    Still great post Marie! ❀ πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Beth! I agree, all of the bloggers I can think of that are really making a living out of blogging, no one does what we do. I think it’s harder for book bloggers to “make it”, but on the other hand… I think we are already “making it”, since we sometimes get ARCs if we are lucky, and well, we get to have fun talking about books all day long πŸ˜€ I wouldn’t want to get sick of blogging either!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right, I think most of the time when I think of bloggers making it it’s more people who blog on YouTube rather than on WordPress and the like you know? I definitely agree with you in terms of making it by receiving ARCs, anything like that is an amazing bonus for me and this is just something I’ve had so much fun doing this past year! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Book blogging has always been a… hmm, a very niche, specific type of blogging that as far as I know, does NOT make any money (generally, if all you do is blog). It’s crossed my mind numerous times too because hell, although I also don’t need money like that, it’ll be good to have extra income from doing things that I like… plus the time I spent here are time I spent JUST for fun, and I do wonder if there are other things I can do to be more “financially productive”. It’s an ongoing internal debate. πŸ˜›

    Thank you for this post, Marie. ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I read tons of blog posts about this because I was so curious, and it seems hard. It really is a debate for me as well, haha, I spend so much time blogging, sometimes I think it’d be so great to get this extra income out of it. But blogging’s already awesome like that πŸ˜€

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  9. I feel pressure at times to justify the amount of time and energy I spend on my blog. Sometimes I wonder if somehow earning an income of sorts from my blog would help validate this hobby of mine in the eyes of others. At the same time, though, I want to maintain my creative independence and integrity – it’s important to me that my readers know they can trust my reviews and suggestions because I’m not being compensated in any way (I usually review books I borrow from the library so there’s no conflict of interest). It’s a puzzle, to be sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I just monetized my blog in October, through affiliate links and ads through the Book Riot Ad network. I wanted to self-host my blog anyway, but I couldn’t justify the expense unless some money was coming back through it. So, I’m not making a lot. The ads brought in like $4 from Oct – Dec, and the affiliate links should be making their first payout soon for like $13. Most of the money for affiliate links was my boyfriend buying things on Amazon, but it works. It pays for the site hosting, and any extra I make can go back into the blog or to whatever I need extra money for that month.
    I write for a living as a journalist – there’s no reason I shouldn’t make a teensy bit of money when people read my work here, too. It may not be your thing, but it’s worth it for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. From what I’ve read, there really isn’t money in book blogging. Unless of course you could the free books, which I do.

    Personally, I think there is a line for monetizing blogs, in particular book blogs. What I mean by this, is that some things (affiliate links, feature posts, advertisements, etc) are acceptable in my eyes, and others (accepting money for a review) are a little dicey in my opinion. I think accepting money to write a review makes that review biased and therefore hurts the credibility of the blogger. Just a personal opinion.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, the free books definitely are a plus, and a fantastic reward. Of course I get a teeny bit jealous about it since I only get a couple e-ARCs since I live in France, but well it’s already quite awesome πŸ™‚
      Oh I agree with you about reviews: I don’t think I could do that, get money to write a review, it’d make me so uncomfortable and I don’t feel like it is the “right way” to do this. Well, I know it wouldn’t be, for me, and if I ever choose to monetize my blog, it wouldn’t be like that. Thank you so much, and thank you for your thoughts about this! πŸ™‚

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    2. The only time I think getting money for a review would be appropriate is if it was a publication that was paying me. If something like Publisher’s Weekly or Book Page wanted to pay me for reviewing a book, I still feel like I could be objective about it. I wouldn’t take payment from an author tho’.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. It would indeed really be a dream come true to be able to blog about books and other things I love for a living. Because it does take a lot of time and effort to blog and like you said, if you have a full-time job that means that pretty much all your free time goes into blogging. So yes, of course it would be great if we could just do this full-time instead. πŸ™‚
    Though it will indeed always be a dream, it’s true that the chances of that actually happening are really small. And I also agree with you, there is so much that we are already getting from blogging, even if it’s not money. But the support and the community are already so rewarding. ❀ Not to mention all the skills we are learning by blogging. I mean, there is so much that goes into it! So at the very least I think we should be able to use this experience as an argument when applying or a job or promotion even… And who knows? Maybe the perfect bookish opportunity will still come our way someday πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The dream is already happening πŸ˜€ I’m surrounded by books, writing about them, and talking about them! But I do have the money question in my mind once in a while. While I love what I’m doing with the blog, it is hard to squeeze the hobby in between life’s obligations, like a job to keep blogging! What else is gonna pay the Internet bill, books, and glasses to read??
    I have been wondering if making it as a professional blogger would not take the fun out of it in the end, by turning something you do for fun into a job you HAVE to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I’ve never considered monetizing my blog (probably because I don’t think it’s so popular that I would make a profit on it) but my friends n family who know I blog often ask me why don’t I monetize it.
    I just think if I should monetize it, then I’ll have to cater more to the audience paying me and would no longer have the freedom I have now, where I post whatever it is I’d want to see if I were to visit my own blog.
    I agree it’s a touchy subject because I sometimes feel offended when friends n family tell me to make money on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve thought about this a lot and my family and even some friends have asked me COUNTLESS times if there isn’t a way to make money from this blog. I just can’t think of anything that might not ultimately make this whole venture too much of a responsibility. I quite like having such an open schedule, to post and review whatever I please. I somehow can’t see it still being that way if money were involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand, and to be honest this is what makes me nervous and not take this plunge. I love being able to blog and write what I love and review the books I want, and so on. I already put a lot of pressure on myself right now though, I can’t imagine if there were money involved hahaha. The only “professional” thing I’m actually considering a lot at the moment is self-hosting. But well, it’s scary haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I considered self-hosting too. I just don’t like how many non-wordpress-url pages won’t let wordpress users comment as easily. I’m not going to lie, I am way less active on pages that make me fill out name, url, handle and so for each and every comment, even if I have auto-fill-in options. :/

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  16. I’ve thought about monetizing my blog a LOT and I still want to do it. It isn’t a greedy thing, but a “hey, I have something to offer and I wouldn’t mind getting paid for it.” kind of thing. I know I don’t want to get paid for book reviews, but I’d have to think of something else. I did try affiliate links, but I found that none of my readers were buying the books, at least not through my links, so Amazon canceled my affiliate account until I can generate revenue.
    I’ve been to all kinds of webinars and read emails about monetizing blogs, but honestly none of them really cater or even touch upon monetizing a book blog. It’s anything besides that, you know?
    I would love to make money, even if it’s just so I can feel less guilty for buying books (knowing all the free books I can get), but if I could make somewhat of a living off of it, I wouldn’t mind that either…;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I understand your feelings so much, and I agree, I wouldn’t mind getting paid either haha, but it’s so hard. I also read lots of articles about this but monetizing a book blog seems to be a very tricky business haha. Well, maybe someday we’ll find a way πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. To be honest, I honestly don’t know that much about monetizing πŸ˜‚ however that said, I don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with wanting to make a little income from blogging. As much as we love it, it’s quite time consuming. As fun as it is, I feel like it can be considered work in a sense. We’re basically running/maintaining a website as well as reading books and writing reviews. I think as long as people aren’t doing this solely for the freebies, which clearly you’re not, it’s totally okay to monetize things!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It’s such a fine line. My family has really been on me to monetize my blog. Now, my blog is small and the number of followers that I have isn’t very big. Obviously, I’d like to change this, but I’m never sure how to go about it. I don’t exactly have a lot of money to put into advertising my blog.

    As I said above, I wouldn’t mind getting paid to review books as long as it was a publication like Publishers Weekly or Book Page. I would never take money from an individual author for reviewing. I’ve thought about affiliate links, but I don’t have a very big following (yet) and I doubt anyone’s buying books from my links to Amazon.

    I appreciate you broaching the topic tho’. It is something interesting tho’ somewhat “taboo” to talk about. I’d rather it not be taboo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts about this! I agree that it’s such a fine line. I would feel okay getting money if I were writing for publications as well, but not if it was an individual author. It doesn’t seem okay this way.
      I think it’s good to talk about these, I realize we are a lot asking ourselves these kind of questions. It’s great to know we are not alone πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Such a good post. I’ve gone back and forth on this one myself. I would LOVE to be able to make back just enough to cove my expenses (at LEAST the hosting expenses). But at the same time — as a hobby, this honestly isn’t all that expensive, and I know people who spend WAY more on their hobbies. And I’m ok with investing a little in something that I really enjoy doing (and rambling on here is a GREAT stress reliever!) So would it be nice to be making money on my blog? Heck yes! But am I super bummed that I’m not? No, not really. Especially since that definitely keeps blogging in the realm of fun and free and out of the realm of “need to meet a schedule to stay on budget.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Michelle! You’re so right, in the end when you come to think about it, the hosting fees aren’t that big for a hobby, some people spend much, much more. And it IS a great stress reliever, I agree, I just LOVE blogging so much. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about this! If you don’t mind me asking, are you hosting your website on WordPress ? Was this hard to set up ? πŸ™‚

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  20. I think you raise a lot of good points. Personally, I think if book bloggers do get paid (and I’ve posted some thoughts on why I’m doubtful they will or that it will be more than a handful of the “best” ones), I don’t think they would be getting much money. If it takes me just 5 hours to read a book and 1 hour to review it, that’s six hours of time. What’s a fair hourly rate for that? Minimum wage? Or more because it’s a “skilled” job? If I ask for just $8/hour, I’d be asking for about $50 to review a book, minimum. And who’s going to pay me that, especially considering that most book blogs have modest followings? I think one could probably make some pocket money from book blogging, but you’d also have to invest in self-hosting and other costs, which might mean you were ultimately breaking even or not even covering your costs at all.

    So, I don’t have a problem with people earning money from book blogging, but I can’t imagine the situation where it would be viable to do it instead of an actual 9-5 type job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you on that for sure, I have a hard time believing that it’s possible for book bloggers to get a viable income from their blogging. I’m sure it’s okay to make some extra money with affiliate links and such, but nothing like what you can get in an actual 9-5 job for sure.
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about this, Briana! πŸ™‚

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  21. I think about it all the time bc I don’t have a job right now…it’s important that we also be able to pay the bills! But I also feel like being an Amazon affiliate will keep people from buying the books I recommend when I list the deals. I don’t want them to think that I am only putting up the links so that I can make money.
    It’s a complicated topic, isn’t it? Most people want to have paid subscriptions to avoid have ads in our face…we pay to have ads put on our blogs, lol!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. There was a lot of heated debate on twitter about book reviewers getting paid to write reviews, and honestly my view point is this: where money is involved, it would be EXTREMELY difficult to trust the blogger’s review of a book. Already a lot of people criticize us reviewers because they think we are biased just because we get “free” books (ARCs/review copies). So no, I don’t agree with the earning money by reviewing books thing, even though I would love to do that. Money is money.

    THAT BEING SAID, I think what would ACTUALLY be useful for all of us is better affliation processes and stuff. IMO that is the best way to earn money from blogging without being accused of any biases or putting your integrity on the line.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this πŸ™‚ I agree with you that it’d be difficult to trust the bloggers’ reviews when money is involved…it’s such a complicated issue. I agree that better affiliation processes would be great, right now. I still think actually blogging for a living is a dream haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I really honestly love this post and this discussion *so much*. Currently I’m an affiliate for BookDepository and that’s just about it – I don’t really make anything at all, it was just something I wanted to try and I thought there was no harm in continuing it for just that little extra. Really though, money isn’t and will never be the point to my blogging. Scrap all the money, heck, make ME pay to blog but I NEED it. Blogging gives me this feeling of such pure happiness and amazingness, and its not just about me talking about books the way I feel so comfortable to do so, its being surrounded by such an amazing audience and group of awesome people – its making friends, sharing, loving things together.

    I don’t blame people for wanting to monatize their blog because you said it, WOULDN’T

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OKAY I AM SORRY THAT COMMENT CUT OFF (carrying on): WOULDN’T IT BE SO AMAZING TO BE ABLE TO LIVE OFF DOING THIS? If you’re doing it to be able to continue doing what you love, if you do it with still that passion for blogging then its still in the heart of blogging! (Though there are grey areas I think are really a bit taboo and touchy)

      Again, REALLY AWESOME discussion post and I love it! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so, SO MUCH for sharing your thoughts about this! I agree that what’s the most fun for me in blogging is just TALKING ABOUT BOOKS, and money isn’t important because well, sure it’d make me happy to win tons of money, but that’s not why I started and why it should make me happy. Thank you!! ❀ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

  24. I’m new to the affiliate program and just started blogging here again as well. I don’t find it an issue as long as you disclose it. This makes people aware that you are recommending something that can be sold. It is scary because it’s the first time I started a blog as an affiliate, it’s kinda hard to incorporate a recommendation when I’ve been writing just for myself most of my life.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I am looking into monetizing my blog and trying to find people who have done it before and see what advice they have. I would like to be able to make a profit from my blog. So if anyone has any advice or a how to guide, I would love to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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